IF I say 'Latin America' what does it conjure up?
Colour? Music? Festivals? Food? Romance?
For me Latin America means all those things, yet it is a destination not ticked off my bucket list.
That's about to change, now that Ted Dziadkiewicz, founder/operator of Contours Travel, (he's been travelling to Latin America for 40 years, done more than 100 trips) tells me this is a destination topping dream lists for many.
Contours Travel can arrange a trip of just a few days up to a 100-day itinerary, but Mr. Dziadkiewicz's strong word of advice is 'give yourself time to absorb each place.'
"Slow your tour down," he said. "Add a day or two in each place, discover, walk in the cities, explore the side streets. Before you go make a plan to suit your interests whether it be food, architecture, birds or butterflies."
For first timers Mr. Dziadkiewicz recommends a small tour group, say 10 to 16 people with an English-speaking guide.
"Some people try to see seven countries in a couple of weeks, becoming confused. A small tour will give you a balanced view, show you the hot spots and attractions and take you off the beaten path to expose you to the cultures and way of life. People might tell you of dangers, but no-one tells you how wonderful the locals are. They will give you so much information.
"Cities such as Lima, Buenos Aires need to be discovered slowly. Cuba is flavour of the month. The Andes Mountains of Patagonia are spectacular...let yourself discover slowly and then go back again. Infrastructure is improving all the time. Everything has changed for the better. Tourism and hospitality are so much improved."
When it comes to food - an integral party of any holiday - it doesn't get any more varied and exciting than in Latin America.
"From Mexico to Argentina there is food for everyone," Mr. Dziadkiewicz said. "Peruvian cuisine is coming to the fore, the wines are excellent. Two of the top 20 restaurants in the world are in Lima."
Mr. Dziadkiewicz says Latin America is much more affordable than Europe on the ground.
"We use planes, buses, trains, cars, coaches to get around and we use good hotels."
Let me go right now.
- Commonsense is the best application when considering safety in Latin America. Leave valuables at home and money in the hotel safe.
- Just do small sections at a time and let Contours Travel be your guide to off the beaten track.
- Qantas flies non-stop from Sydney to Santiago four times a week. Other airlines fly through Auckland to LA every day and on from there.
- Contours Travel has 40 years experience in Latin America, unrivalled in Australia, and can organise trips to southern and central America, Mexico, the Caribbean including Cuba.
- Trust them to offer authentic and fully tailored experiences /itineraries.
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